It wasn’t about their head coach, say the players in the locker room who heard — and felt — their head coach’s words Saturday night.
Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer reported prior to the Jets’ 24-13 win over the Browns on Sunday that head coach Rex Ryan told his team on Saturday night that the “word on the street” is he was going to be fired.
Perhaps it was a shrewd word choice, but it has led to rampant speculation Ryan is on his way out after five seasons with the Jets.
But the Jets players in that meeting Saturday say there was nothing of the sort.
“It wasn’t that way. [That’s] farthest from the truth,” one player told Metro on the condition of anonymity. “It wasn’t like that, not at all. He didn’t make it about him. And I didn’t hear him say once that there was a ‘word on the street’ about him going. Not at all.”
It could be the players protecting Ryan, but even if the comment was made, it didn’t seem to register within the context of the brewing media firestorm.
Tight end Kellen Winslow, when told of the report, said “we don’t know anything about that.”
Ryan, who drew criticism several weeks ago for canceling team meetings and taking his team to Dave & Busters in Buffalo, did engage in some group motivation on Saturday night. During the team meeting at their hotel near the stadium, Ryan dimmed the lights and showed a UFC fight featuring Matt Hughes.
In the fight, Hughes was being choked out but he didn’t tap. He worked his way out of it and eventually choked out his opponent and won the fight. Right tackle Austin Howard said the message from Ryan was “we’re not down and out.”
The Jets seemed to respond to that message late in the second quarter, when they were down 10-0 and barely able to function on offense. The offense and the defense responded in the second half with a dominating two quarters of football.
“Overall what he said is that the only guarantee we had was today and next week’s game in Miami. We’re not going to [throw in] the towel,” Howard told Metro. “We’re going to fight for the guy next to us, we’re going to fight for the name on our chest, fight for the name on our back and fight for this organization, because no one is guaranteed anything. All you can do is fight for this week and next week and see how the chips fall.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.